An Appreciation of the Concept of "The Body of Christ"
Text: Matthew 23 : 1 - 30
Let us take time to ponder the deep meaning associated with “the body of Christ”. There is depth in its usage, but no magical meaning is attached.
1. The Incarnation of Christ
The Apostle John wrote one of the most significant theological statements in the following text.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten
of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The Apostle Paul had a very similar appreciation of the Incarnation. Let us ponder the famous “kenosis” passage he wrote in his epistle to the Philippians.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery
to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation,
taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness
of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled
Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even
the death of the cross.”
Jesus emptied (kenosis) Himself of whatever it was that could possibly distract Him from being fully Man! His incarnation did not mean that He gave up His Godhood. Paul took great pains to say that in His incarnation, He chose the form of a bondservant. Imagine what it means to take the form of a mortal man, and that a slave! This was kenosis indeed!
2. The Body of Christ = Temple of God
Jesus spoke of the destruction of the temple, meaning, His death. The chief priests never understood what He meant when He said,
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build
this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’
But He was speaking of the temple of His body.'”
3. The Body of Christ = The Bread of God
John described how Jesus gave another meaning to His body. After He had fed the multitude with bread and fish, the people wanted to make Jesus their king. Jesus however sought to point out to them the greater significance of the miracle that he had just performed.
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you,
Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father
gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He
who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
When the crowds heard these words, they were excited and said,
“Lord, give us this bread always.”
The crowds had misunderstood Jesus. They thought that they could be given literal bread every day. Jesus seeking to clarify what He meant, went on to say,
“I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me
shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
To make things even clearer, Jesus elaborated on what He said.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me
has everlasting life. I am the Bread of Life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat
of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from
heaven. If anyone eat of this bread, he will live forever;
and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give
for the life of the world.”
CONCEPT AND APPLICATION
The Disciples, who had heard Jesus expound this concept on an earlier occasion, would have no difficulty understanding what Jesus meant when He said, “Take, eat, this is My body.” Whereas Jesus had only explained the concept once before, He was now going to apply that concept in real life.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST
Let us summarize the significance of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Three things may be highlighted.
1. His death would give eternal life to all who believed in Him.
2. His death was required as the Atonement for sins.
3.The significance of His death was to be symbolically remembered in the Lord’s Supper.